Thiruvananthapuram: Railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal presented his maiden annual budget for his ministry on Tuesday with no fare hike, 106 new trains and a host of proposals for travel safety and comfort, such as escalators at key stations, a new e-ticketing system and a swanky coach in select trains.
The budget, presented prior to the run-up to the 2014 general elections, has been based on economic principles: safety of passengers, green technologies, better internet booking, women's safety, unmanned rail crossings, etc.
The budget, however, has been disappointing for Kerala as foresaid by Minister for Transport and Power Aryadan Mohammed, who also holds the charge of railway development.
Out of the 106 new trains, including 67 Express trains and 26 passenger trains, the State got only 2 Express trains: Vizag-Kollam and Kochuveli-Chandigarh Express and three passenger trains including Punalur – Kollam train.
Extended services include Guwahati-Ernakulam express to Trivandrum, Kollam-Nagercoil memu to Kanyakumari, Madurai-Kollam passenger to Punalur, Ernakulam-Thrissur memu to Palakkad and Chennai- Guruvayoor to Thoothukudi.
Though the Transport minister had said that the State was not expecting anything from the budget, the government had hope on some of the main demands it had put forth before the Union Minister during his visit to Kozhikode on January 2.
However, none of them -- formation of a peninsular railway zone, steps to kick off the coach factory in Palakkad and wagon component factory at Cherthala – have been given any mentioning in the budget.